We live in the year 2018. The Year of the Dog, according to our Chinese amigos. We have machines that allow us to see through our skin, and into our bones. There are marvels of technology that keep us alive when our hearts and brains cease to function. We can even spit into a vial, and a programme will tell us everything about our genetic structure and the basis of our very existence. But when a man needs his prostate checking, another man without a CRB check, in a white coat, takes it upon himself to stick his finger up our arseholes, and wriggles it about a bit.
‘Modern medicine’, my arse…
Every TwentySomething, without exception, has the cast-iron certainty ingrained into his or her pea-sized cranium that he or she is invincible. He or she has the God-given power to defy biology, biomechanics and the basic laws of physics, á la Batman (or Cat Woman, Gareth, you sexist pig…), without the fear of injury or death. I apologise for being the bearer of unsavoury news, but this is untrue. Shock horror, I know. I know this because I have broken several bones, and my nose (if you’ve seen the way I can bend and move it in the wind like a car wash clown, Jesus Christ you’d know) seven times, through a combination of sporting cock-ups and retardedness (these often came hand-in-hand). Each and every time, it hurt. I’m a big, strong boy (that’s what my Mummy says), and a combination of Calpol, alcohol (unsafe combination, do not try at home) and spooning of my teddy bears (your judging means nothing to me…) would manage the grief, pain and frustration, but each time an injury came and went, and I spent time out of sport and training in particular, the reality of the fragility of bone, flesh, mind and spirit would slowly but surely sink in. Because, boys and girls, that is what we are; an assembly of fragile matter, and as such, we need to f*cking take care of it. Did I envisage, even a few years ago with my own original diagnosis, the possibility that a little collection of spastic, stunted avocados in my lungs were going to top me off in my mid-Twenties? Nein nein nein. Youthful delusions of immortality took good care of that particular thought. But it certainly reinforced the necessity of taking care of myself, should other ailments or challenges come my way.
As such, in the immortal, sagely words of Ice Cube, you better check yourself before you wreck yourself. Apologies to literally everyone on planet Earth for, in this moment, being the whitest and most painful man alive.
The context to that crime against humanity; why the f*ck do we, men and women alike, have to act all hard and think that a little niggle is nothing? Great question Gareth, you’re oh-so-wise, proceed. As some of you poor, sadomasochistic bastards that have been reading this literary diarrhoea from the beginning will know, I spent a number of months prior to my diagnosis thinking that the pain in my leg and foot was simply a hairline fracture, or bone contusion (bruising), toughening up prior to the beginning of my full military career. It, of course, was not, it was a malignant bundle of goodness that bizarrely resembled the shape of Madagascar. Not that a significantly earlier awareness of this (the tumour, not Madagascar) would have dramatically changed my outcome and the eventual relief you will all feel when I do finally f*ck off, but it highlights the need to be aware of the fact that our bodies are fragile, and can from time-to-time be prone to illness and compromise. In my particularly novel case, this was cancer, and in far, far more likely examples, it is not. It’s nothing. It’s a bump, a scratch, a little bug. But we owe it to ourselves, and more importantly to those we love and cherish, to take care of these temporal physical things in our lives that we, when we actually stop and think, have such great control over, to appreciate the good health that we enjoy, and to have the vigilance to be aware when things aren’t quite all they seem.
We often find ourselves dismissing problems for fear that they’re something far bigger than they seem. The reality, backed by statistic upon statistic, is that that fear is a fabrication of your psychotic mind, likely as a consequence of alcohol consumption and the anxiety caused by England trying to kill you through stress induction at the World Cup, or your favourite Love Island retard doing something... retarded. But the very real logic behind the need for you to go to your GP or relevant health practitioner is that it is far better to not bask in your ignorance that will fester your worry, proceed to know nothing is particularly wrong, and return to your life without the stress of a phantom issue. It would be ethically wrong for me to say that in every case there will be no issue. Naturally, statistically, that is bollocks. But the point stands that knowledge is power, and however big or small that medical issue is, you’re in a far stronger position to remedy it knowing its name, and knowing its face.
There are so many basic things that we can do to keep ourselves in check, and minimise the chances of us struggling with our health; head to the gym, go for a run, stimulate yourself mentally, challenge your body and your mind in equal measure, eat well and consume all things in moderation (bar Diet Coke and Maltesers – this individual knows who he/she is…). A lifestyle in which we are conscious of and care for our own wellbeing is one that sets us up to keep us ticking over longer, and in health. Who wouldn’t want that.
It’s such a wonderfully simple task to allay fears. Fear only comes as a consequence of ignorance, and an unwillingness to actually take care of ourselves. If you have a problem with your shoulder from the gym, go to the physio and get yourself fondled and fixed up. If you’ve felt run down for a while and it’s not kicking, head over to your GP. If you’ve got toothache, brush your teeth, then head to the dentist. If you’re peeing like a racehorse, chaps, get your bum examined.
Crazy cats, happy Tuesday. The Narcos fans of you out there will know that on this day in 1991, Pablo Escobar handed himself into Colombian police custody. Exactly seventeen years later, Colombia have shagged their chances at the World Cup by losing to The Land of the Rising Sun. A bad day for Colombianos, but a good day for cancer patients and the Japanese; as of a few weeks ago, our fundraising effort in aid of Cancer Research UK hit £103,000 (inc. gift aid), which has taken us just over a year to waddle our way up to, all of which wouldn’t, couldn’t, have been done without your humbling and gracious generosity. I'm loathe to blow too much smoke up anyone's arse, nor am I one for social media slutting and all that drama, but for one night and one night only, I'll let it all slide - myself, my family and loved ones are stunned beyond measure by those acts of kindness, of all sizes, that will certifiably allow other people to live through and survive cancer, long after my smelly chat and magical beard takes off to entertain a new audience in the belly of Hell. From all your kind-hearted words, to silent acts of unbelievable open-handedness, I struggle to fathom why any of you would, deep down, give a flying f*ck about me and my little fundraising cause, from those of you that handed over your bank account details (you are correct, those unusual payments on your card were my holidays) to those of you who ran, swam, baked and cycled in droves, all in aid of giving people the world over a bit more of a chance when it comes to mutated cells and their little parties in our bodies. The list is far too long to rattle off here, but you all know exactly who you are. Nevertheless, I am indebted beyond what could ever be repaid, and rest assured your support has made it to such an outstanding organisation that is fighting day-after-day to find new treatments for cancers of all ilk, creed and colour, and to give people now and in the future a true pop at full, healthy life. I’ll be continuing the fundraising and the writing all the way up, and we’ll keep that total ticking over, even after I’ve snuffed it. There may well be a short lull in writing over the next few months as I return to the intravenous, toxic Panda Pop and more treatment (I live the dream, I know…), as there has been in the previous few months with my condition having got a little giddy as of late, but I’ll endeavour to continue to repay your goodwill and love with more of this utter crap when I can. I'll spare you generous bastards any more literary bollocks for the time being, but in the meantime, merci infiniment cool kids.